Nigeria’s off-cycle elections: Observers raise concerns about vote buying, election violence and irregularities

Observers have raised concerns about vote buying, election violence and irregularities in Nigeria’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states.

In a statement released on Saturday, Professor Adele Jinadu, Chair of the CDD Election Analysis Centre (CDD-EAC), said that the organization had deployed over 150 fact-checkers and observers in all three states to monitor the polls.

Jinadu said that observers had reported delayed voting in 65% of polling units observed in Bayelsa and 80% of polling units observed in Imo. He also noted that there were reports of vote buying in all three states, with party agents allegedly sharing money with voters upon confirmation that they voted for their party candidates.

In addition, Jinadu said that there were reports of election violence in several areas, including Dekini LGA in Kogi state, where a thug was reportedly shot and killed by military officials while fleeing in an attempt to snatch a ballot box.

“We are also concerned about the reports of irregularities in Ogori/Magongo LGA in Kogi state, where there were pre-filled election result sheets in areas where voting had not even commenced,” Jinadu said. “We urge INEC to exercise the strongest punishment for those caught in this act.”

Jinadu also raised concerns about the spread of disinformation ahead of and during the elections. He said that days before the election, it was consistently claimed that the SDP candidate in Kogi, Murtala Ajaka, stepped down from the race. On the morning of the election, a false message was circulated that Ajaka was disqualified because of his running mate’s certificate controversy.

“There was a similar situation in Imo, where a video was circulated that purportedly showed the PDP’s candidate, Sam Anyanwu, had stepped down and endorsed the incumbent governor of the APC,” Jinadu said. “This video was similarly debunked but not before it had been widely reported on social media and on news platforms.”

Jinadu said that the CDD-EAC would continue to pay close attention to key issues in the electoral process as they unfold. He said that the organization would issue a post-election report on Monday to take a look at the collation and result declaration process.

“We urge all stakeholders to play their role in ensuring that the electoral process is peaceful, transparent and credible,” Jinadu said.

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